We truly enjoyed our stay at Northern Lights Condo Feb 10-17, 2011, and we hope this review will help those who are searching for their piece of heaven in Grand Cayman.
When researching where to stay on the island, we were overwhelmed with all that were available. So we set our search criteria as follows:
1. on the beach with good snorkeling
2. good spots to fish from shore
3. smaller complex providing lots of privacy
4. nice and quiet swimming pool
5. fully equipped kitchen
6. spacious and clean
7. reasonably priced
Thanks to the posters in Tripadvisor's forum, we found out that snorkeling at Northern Lights' beach was very good. When we looked up the Northern Lights Condos, we were very impressed by the setting, and it met all our criteria, so we booked despite not seeing too many reviews on the property. Boy are we glad we took the plunge.
The Northern Lights Condos are located in Old Man Bay on the north side of the island, away from the busy hotel strip on Seven Mile Beach. If you want to see the laid back side of Grand Cayman, this is it. It is tranquil, serene and romantic with its own private beach and private fishing pier.
We rented a car from Andy's at the airport and had no problem driving around the island. It's a short drive from the condo to Rum Point, the East End, Frank Sound and the Botanical Garden. We also drove to Bodden Town, George Town, Seven Mile Beach, and all the way to Hell (yes, we did the touristy thing, sending postcards from Hell to our friends back home).
If this is your first visit to the island or have more than two in your party, you can also consider renting a car from McCurley's. They would pick you up from the airport with a van, offer a grocery stop, and drive you to Northern Lights where your rental car would be waiting for you. They would pick up the car and drive you back to the airport when you leave. We had wanted to do that, but we were too late in booking McCurley's and all their cars were rented.
Northern Lights is a small complex with only 9 units. Only 3 are rented to tourists. So you will most likely have the pool, the beach and the fishing gazebo all to yourselves. We did. For the whole week that we were there, we were the only ones using the pool.
The condo we rented was a 1850 sq ft. 2 bedroom, 2 and half bath townhouse with a fully equipped kitchen. Considering the costs of eating out, it helps to have a kitchen where you can make your own breakfasts, or occasional dinners. The screened patio on the ground floor was great for BBQing and the balcony on the second floor was also screened, perfect for taking an afternoon nap in the hammock.
We stayed in unit 4 and it was very clean, and very spacious, especially just for me and my husband. There was free internet access as well as satellite TV. The washer and dryer were an added convenience.
It cost $1900 per week for the two of us including taxes for high season. It would be even more affordable if you have a family of 4 or share with another couple to split the cost. We booked directly with the owner, Bo, who built the complex and also living there. (http://www.mycaymangetaway.com ) . We found the rates higher if we booked through Expedia or other third party hotel sites. The owner is also offering his block of units for sale. In case his units are sold, you can still rent at the same price from an American couple who are renting out their unit in the same complex . I found their listing on VRBO (listing# 263160)
The complex was right on the beach. We had a great time beach combing, finding all sorts of dead corals and shells that had washed up the beach. The sand was amazingly powder fine but entry to the water was full of coral and rocks. Bring your water shoes or flippers.
The snorkeling here should be good on a calm day. There is a barrier reef maybe about 100 yards out. The first couple days we arrived, the water was calm and clear. But we thought the weather would remain the same for the rest of the week, so we went out to town for other excursions. Bad timing. When we were ready to snorkel later in the week, the north easterly winds picked up and the water was rough and visibility low. So if you are staying on the north side of the island and you see the water is calm, go snorkeling and do not wait.
We had a great time at the private fishing pier. We brought along our travel fishing gear, and I hooked a parrot fish right at the pier but the line snapped before I could land it. Our next door neighbours were there from the U.S. getting their condo ready for rent, and lent us their fishing gear, and also gave us tips on where to cast for a great catch! So if you are an avid fisherman, you can rent from them (http://grandcaymansnorthernexposure.com) and you'll have use of all their fishing rods and gear plus other toys.
You don`t even have to drive to Seven Mile Beach. We ate at Over the Edge Restaurant which was just a few minutes' drive away, and the prices are not expensive either. We also ate at Rum Point, Driftwood on the north side and Tukka in the East End, also not a far drive. The best find was Grape Tree Cafe on the beach in Bodden Town, where they serve mahi mahi, grouper or snapper fish fry for just $10 on the weekends. You can eat and snorkel at the beach or take out.
We also made most of our breakfasts and a couple of dinners at our condo. That's the convenience of staying at a condo instead of a hotel. When we asked Bo, who lived next door (and also the owner of our condo) , where to buy fresh fish, he went and bought us some ! We steamed the fresh turbot he brought us. Spiced with his nice thoughts, that was the best meal we had on the island !
All in all, we had a great time at Northern Lights Condo, and we hope you will too.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.